The seeds of cereal plants. (1) Barley ("se'orah"), which was and still is the most common grain of Palestine, is the ordinary food of horses, asses, and oxen. (2) Beans ("pol") were also in very general use. They were brought to David on his flight from Absalom (II Sam. xvii. 28), and were one of the ingredients which Ezekiel was commanded to mix with his bread (Ezek. iv. 9). (3) Fitches, or vetches ("ḳeẓaḥ"), really the seed of the nutmegflower (bot. Nigella sativa), were no doubt used as a condiment sprinkled over cakes, as at the present day (see Tristram, "Natural History of the Bible," p. 444). (4) Lentils ("'adashim") were a sort of vetch, grown in poor soil and often mixed with meal for bread. (5) Millet ("doḥan"; bot. Panicum miliaceum) was and is used in baking certain sweet cakes. Compare Ezek. iv. 9, where the prophet is commanded to use millet in making his bread. (6) Pulse ("zera'im") was a general name including most edible seeds, such as millet, peas, etc. (7) Vetch ("kussemet"; bot. Vicia ervilia) is wrongly translated "rye" in the A. V. (see Ex. ix. 32; Isa. xxviii. 25). Rye is unknown in Palestine. (8) The most important grain of ancient times was undoubtedly wheat ("ḥiṭṭah"). Compare the wheat-harvest mentioned in Gen. xxx. 14.
The following are the most important terms used in the O. T. in connection with corn:Terms for Corn in O. T.
"Abib," "fresh young ears of corn" (Lev. ii. 14; R. V. "corn in the ear"; "grain of wheat"). "Bar," literally "clean, winnowed corn" (compare modern Arab. "burr," and Gen. xl. 49; Prov. xi. 26). "Belil," "cattle-fodder" (Job xxiv. 6; A. V. "mingled corn, dredge"). "Dagan," as indicated above, was the general term for corn or grain. It is very commonly used with "tirosh," "must, wine" (Deut. xxxiii. 2). It is probably not connected with the god-name Dagon. "Geresh" (Lev. ii. 14, 16), "beaten corn"; R. V. "bruised corn." "Karmel" (II Kings iv. 42), "ears of corn"; better, "fruit, garden-produce." "'Abur" (Josh. v. 11), "old corn"; R. V. in marg. "produce," "corn." "'Aremah" (Ruth iii. 7), "heap of corn." "Ḳali" (I Sam. xvii. 17), "parched corn." "Ḳemaḥ," "standing corn" (compare Judges xv. 5, where it is stated that Samson tied firebrands to the tails of foxes and loosed them in the Philistines' standing grain). "Ripot" (II Sam. xii. 19), "bruised corn." "Sheber" (from the root meaning "to break"), perhaps "broken corn," or "that which breaks the hunger" (Gen. xlii. 1), or simply "that which breaks the fast" ("sheber ra'abon"; compare ib., verse 19); from this the denominative "hishbir," "sell corn." "Shibbolet" (Ruth ii. 2; Gen. xli. 5), "ear of corn" (Greek στάχυς, Matt. xii. 1; Mark ii. 23).Reaping and Threshing.
Grain was reaped at about knee-height from the ground, quite near the ear. It was gathered up in the reapers' bosoms and tied into sheaves, which were then carried on pack-animals to the threshing-floor ("goren"), an open space exposed to the wind. Here it was threshed, either by the hoofs of cattle,which were driven around the floor on the spread-out grain, or by mechanical means. Of the latter the "morag" was the most important. This was a heavy sledge with a rough bottom which was weighted both by stones and by the driver, who stood upon it or else sat upon it on a stool (see Agriculture). The grain was then winnowed by being, for example, thrown into the air both by the "fan" (A. V.), more properly "fork," and by the "grain-shovel." The grain which fell back was heaped up (Ruth iii. 7) separately from the straw, which was reserved for fodder (Isa. xi. 7). The chaff was, of course, blown away.
Very little is known about the nature of the storage-places for grain mentioned in the Old Testament. At the present day grain is kept in underground chambers, which are usually hewn out of the rock, but sometimes dug in soft soil.